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42 Taliban fighters killed in Pakistan


Islamabad: The Pakistani army said Tuesday that 42 Taliban militants and one soldier were killed in the ongoing offensive in South Waziristan district near the Afghan border.

The latest casualties came as the UN reported the assault had displaced at least 250,000 people from the rugged, mountainous district.

The military launched a three-pronged operation in the region more than a week ago, vowing to purge the Taliban network believed to be behind dozens of suicide attacks over the last two years.

“Security forces are steadily progressing on all three axes and clearing the area,” said an army statement on Tuesday. It said 42 militants and one soldier died in the clashes while two troops were injured.

Troops regained control of one security post that the Taliban had occupied months ago, and laid siege to the nearby Nawaz Kot village – one of the several militant strongholds in the district.

The assault is a crucial test for Pakistan’s determination and capacity to fight the growing militancy that poses a serious security threat at home as well as abroad.

According to the military officials, the fighting in Waziristan so far has killed 240 insurgents and 31 soldiers. But the figures could not be confirmed independently since the authorities have blocked access to the region.

Some 50,000 to 80,000 people are estimated to be in the area most affected by fighting, Manual Bessler, the head of the UN Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs (OCHA) in Pakistan, told reporters in Geneva.

The UN still expected more people to be left homeless by the ongoing fighting.

In order to avert the offensive, Taliban have intensified attacks across Pakistan, killing more than 200 people in October.